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When It Rains, It Pours For The Astros

The results aren’t pretty and depth is being tested. In other news, welcome to April.

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

It is an understatement to say that the Astros haven’t had a strong start to their season. While the club currently possesses a 6-6 record, the overall results have been lackluster, with an offense ranked among the bottom ten in baseball by wRC+ and an inconsistent rotation. At least the bullpen has generally been good in a short sample.

Offense

  • .199 batting average (27th)
  • .282 on-base percentage (27th)
  • .355 slugging percentage (17th)
  • 92 wRC+ (20th)

Rotation

  • 4.45 ERA (19th)
  • 3.90 FIP (15th)
  • 8.5% K-BB% (25th)

A .500 record feels about right.

Recent performances by Jose Urquidy, Framber Valdez, and Jake Odorizzi have left fans furrowing their brows more than usual. Plus, the Astros are without the services of Lance McCullers Jr. and Jose Altuve, as the former is not likely to pitch in a game until June. However, it is only April, so it is premature to declare that the season is in jeopardy. The lineup — sooner or later — will come to life and help drive this club’s performance higher. Kyle Tucker can only be unlucky for so long before the hits start coming in bunches. I’d figure that the pitching staff, particularly the rotation, will right itself. But the loss of Altuve to a hamstring strain, even in the short term, puts additional strain on this roster’s positional depth, which is arguably Houston’s biggest weakness.

Niko Goodrum — a below-average hitter in the past three seasons — is the presumptive second baseman most days while Altuve is out. Outside of Aledmys Díaz, there isn’t much infield depth on this roster, and it shows. While Joe Perez or J.J. Matijevic may provide some offensive value in bursts, a contending club could have to rely upon two players with a combined one Major League plate appearance isn’t encouraging. While the hope is for Altuve to heal and return to the lineup in relatively short order, soft tissue injuries, especially in the lower body, are a lingering concern. After all, we saw what happened with Alex Bregman in recent seasons with his injury history. Add the history of Díaz as well, and there are legitimate concerns about this infield if certain events occur.

Again, the sample is small, and the Astros are not playing up to their full capabilities. Tucker, for example, won’t carry a 33 wRC+ all season long. Even if there are concerns about Yuli Gurriel’s staying power at nearly 38-years old, he won’t hit .147/.171/.265 all season long. Jake Odorizzi will likely finish the season with a 4.27 ERA in twenty-some starts. Hopefully, Altuve won’t miss too much time, and the infield depth chart remains intact. Outfield depth should take a step forward once Jake Meyers returns. But this roster has to navigate another April when a slow start persists and depth is tested. It worked out well last year, but there are no guarantees this year.